How Clean Planet Project spent a month trying their best to not use plastic in any form: avoiding to-go coffee cups, swapping plastic-bottled shampoo for bars, and buying produce that is not plastic wrapped or contained. Can we get a raise, please?
Clean Planet Project took the sacred oath this month to be plastic free (not to be confused with plastic-free perfect). And through this oath we swore to be better humans to our home, Earth. So, here it goes - the story of a month-long challenge and how we managed to be imperfect for 31 days.
Our story begins with a challenge that seriously challenges you to actually really think about all the anxiety inducing things you consume that are plastic-wrapped, -bound, -trapped, and -contained?
With any challenge, no matter if its starting to workout, eat better, or save money, start with a plan! Our roadmap for this challenge was this simple calendar. Each day of Plastic Free July, our pledge to this challenge is holding us accountable for one small change each day. Each small change is making a big difference!
The easy plastic free days
The easy days of the challenge were definitely the first twenty-one. Most of the days were actions we were already doing, or were part of our routine. We started with using what we had before swapping to something more sustainable. That is rule number one for sustainability!
"There is no such thing as 'away'. When we throw anything away it must go somewhere." - Annie Leonard
The actions that were simple or part of routine were:
Shopping with reusable bags
Sipping H2O through our emotional support water bottle 🍼
Bringing a reusable mug into our favorite coffee shops ☕
Using a reusable straw the days we forget the mug or they don't accept personal cups
Eating with reusable utensils
Slowly swapping out plastic-contained soaps and cleaners out for plastic-free or reFill-able ones 🧼
Staying to enjoy rather than using take-away plastic containers and utensils
Buying more loose produce and putting it into reusable containers
Going on cleanups around our neighborhoods or whenever we are out and about!
Some of the plastic-free challenges are still a work in progress such as laundry soaps, loose produce, choosing plastic-free options for pets and household goods.
We are still using the last of the Tide laundry detergent 🧺 before swapping to Grove Co's refillable laundry soap or walking down to our local re-fill store. Both of these options are great! Check out Grove if you haven't already. They ship their namesake product's in aluminum or other recyclable packaging. Do some Googling for a reFill store near you! Support local businesses! (PS that's another pro-sustainable tip!)
We are still trying to figure out how to best buy plastic-free produce. The farmer's market is still our favorite, but we can't always make it. We are also trying to buy produce that is is in season versus out. So, summer is a great time to buy all the tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and other colorful fruits and veggies, whereas winter is better to buy root and cold-hearty veggies like brussels spouts, potatoes, brocolli and squashes. We are exploring options such as Thrive Market and Imperfect Foods to find loose produce and reduce our overall food waste! Another challenge for another month ✨
Plastic-free options for pets is something new for us to think about. At Clean Planet Project, we love animals, but love cats the most (sorry dog people😉). We have been using a wood-based litter for a long time and love it! However, we haven't thought about much else for our four-legged and furry friends. We are using what we have before venturing into more sustainable options! So, if there is something you like, love, or hate for your pet - let us know! We love recommendations!
The first twenty-FUN days of Plastic-Free July were easy peasy lemon squeezy 🍋 It's last few that were a more of a challenge.
The more challenging plastic-free days ...
A few of the days were a little bit of a struggle bus 🚌 The days that challenged us the most were:
Making homemade snacks and personal care products 🍿
Choosing natural fiber fabrics and reusable menstrual products 👗
Opting for plastic-free toys and stationary
Traveling plastic-free ✈
These swaps and choices were things that weren't already a part of our routine or actions we have not given much thought to.
Making snacks and personal care products isn't something that we have thought much about. We do a lot of cleaning our produce, storing food in reusable containers to prevent it from going bad as quickly, meal prepping, but never thought about making homemade granola bars or other snacks. Homemade personal care products, on the other hand, are a completely different craft 🎨 We opt for shampoo, conditioner, and soap bars, working up the courage towards to lotion bars and toothpaste tablets, but definitely not enough courage to make our own anything in the personal care department. However, we are reducing our plastic waste by using bars over plastic bottles! One small step towards a big difference! ✨
We shop a lot at Goodwill, local consignment and thrift stores, trolling Facebook Marketplace for secondhand or barely used, and try our best to patch and mend the clothes before we consider new or secondhand 🧵 Natural fibers hasn't worked its way into this equation of shopping secondhand just yet. When we do have to buy new, we look for brands that are B-Corp, reuse materials to produce something new, or something earth-positive and climate-impactful!
Traveling plastic-free has been a challenge since COVID-19. No matter the destination, we still have our reusables in tow! There's a lot of asking 'Can you fill up my water bottle?' when there aren't water fountains available and 'Do you take personal cups?' at a new possible favorite coffee shop. Some asks take more courage than others, but just remember, you're doing the planet a favor just as she is doing one for you - she is home 💚 and you're just here to keep her looking and feeling good!
Exploring more ways to live with less plastic
Our journey to use less plastic was one that has already been forged through routine, consistency, and mindfulness. However, this Plastic Free July has offered us some more creative ways to live life with less plastic such as what fabrics to wear and raising a plastic-free kitty 🐾
Each day is a new opportunity to choose a life less plastic-wrapped and -contained. Every small action will make a big difference! 🍻 Cheers to the rest of year living more mindfully and using less plastic, and cheers to next year's Plastic Free July challenge!